UPDATE 13TH MAY

In light of the latest government guidance we have postponed our reopening until July 4th. We are so sad not to welcome guests sooner, particularly as the Spring and early Summer are so wonderful on the Reserve.  But the safety of our guests, our team and the local community will always be the most important thing.  And, of course, we want to avoid a ‘shock’ of disturbance to our breeding ground-nesting birds and other wildlife which have grown used to very little activity on the visitor routes over the past weeks of lockdown.    

Summer stays All our accommodation spaces are all set apart in nature with private facilities.  We will provide self check-in and check-outs, meaning that there will be no contact at all.  Our team will be on-site and available on the phone so will continue to offer their wonderful service, albeit not face to face.  The honesty bar will be closed but we still plan to deliver our fresh & yummy hamper meals along with some lovely drinks to your hut steps so can still have a treat when you stay…cocktails in a jar anyone?! Our food and drinks are sourced from local producers and prepared in our 5/5 Food Hygiene rated kitchen.

We have always ensured high standards but we have reviewed our processes very thoroughly to ensure we welcome you safely and also that our team of housekeepers are safe.  When further details on COVID-19 Secure Guidelines are released we will ensure we meet these throughout.

Booking We are open for future bookings, you can check availability and book online here or email [email protected].

We do expect that we will have a number of spaces opening up in our calendar over the coming weeks, priority will be given to guests who have credit notes from cancelled stays but please do join our cancellation list here if you are looking for a date over the coming months and we’ll get in touch before we open the dates on the website. 

As we’re in such unusual times we will be looking after all our guests – July and August guests have had information on flexible cancellations emailed to them.  And you can see our terms here.

Gift vouchers if you’d like to stay but don’t know when, have someone who deserves a special present or would like to support us at this time, you can buy gift vouchers.  We are donating 10% of the value of each voucher purchased to local charities.  Vouchers are available for 18 months.

If you already have a gift voucher, your voucher has been extended for 6 months, and remember that the expiry date is for the date of booking – the actual stay can be ahead of this time.  You have plenty of time to make use of your treat and come and enjoy Elmley when you are ready. 

Visits to the Reserve
You will know that walks in the countryside are now encouraged so we hope you can all get out into nature and enjoy it ensuring we all stay sensible.   The detailed Government guidance is clear that ‘private and/or ticketed visitor attractions’ are not yet able to open and sets out reopening for phase 3, which is planned for 4thJuly at the moment.

We have been working on plans to ensure we can reopen safely for all.  This will be a slow process and before then we must ensure we can welcome visitors safely whilst maintaining social distancing and avoiding gatherings. At the same time we want to avoid a ‘shock’ of disturbance to our breeding ground nesting birds and other wildlife which have grown used to very little activity on the visitor routes.   

We are busy making sure that we can reopen safely, with enough staff and wardens to ensure social distancing and cleanliness.  When we can we are planning to open on a pre-booked basis so we don’t have any crowds and will let you know details on this soon.

Friends of Elmley – we have sent all of our Friends a separate email but if you are a Friend and haven’t heard from us do get in touch [email protected]

 

UPDATE 6TH MAY

It has been a little while since we've been in touch.  We have written a rather long post with news from Elmley, spirit-lifting wildlife updates on this wonderful Spring at Elmley, and information about upcoming stays.  You can see the whole post here.

Booking a stay: we are waiting for the next Government announcement and will post a full update after this.  We had been due to reopen in June, so if you have a stay booked in the coming weeks we will be in touch with you directly, but if you have any questions before then please do get in touch - [email protected] and we'd be more than happy to help.

We are busy ensuring that when we do reopen we can welcome guests safely and also make sure all of our team have a safe place to work.   

We might come out of lockdown into a different world but we hope we can give you the same experience of an wonderful escape at Elmley.  Our lovely team might not be able to meet you in person for the foreseeable future but we will still be there making sure your stay is as special and as safe as ever.

If you’re searching for gift ideas at the moment or if you want something to look forward to later this year or next you can book a future stay or buy gift a voucher.  And we know you may be concerned about making a booking with the future so uncertain so we have changed our booking terms to make sure you can book without worry. 

--

We can't wait to welcome you soon, but until then please stay well.  If you'd like to see the magical Spring unfold at Elmley, do follow our instagram and Twitter pages.

With very best wishes,

Gareth, Georgina and Elmley team

UPDATE - 23RD MARCH

Elmley Is Closed For Day Visits Until Further Notice

From Monday 23rd March Elmley National Nature Reserve will be closed to all visitors.  

The Government have issued advice to avoid non-essential travel and advised us all to comply with social distancing guidance to limit the spread of this very infectious virus.

At the start of this week we announced we would stay open as a much need place of solace in nature for our local community by maintaining access but closing communal facilities.

In the current climate, things are changing so fast, and with the government guidance on the need for social distancing and the advice against non-essential travel has meant that we have spent the last few days questioning over whether we should continue to be open whilst keeping our staff and volunteers safe and well.  

Over the weekend, we had many more visitors than normal, in part due to fine weather and Mothering Sunday. This has put a significant strain on our volunteer wardens and staff.  The very high number of visitors is likely to endure as many other leisure venues are closed. This high demand means that not all visitors were able to observe social distancing and many new visitors were unfamiliar with the Reserve so required support and guidance from our volunteer wardens. To continue to receive large numbers of visitors is untenable for both our well-being wardens and therefore our conservation work during the breeding season.       

We have now sadly taken the decision to close all of the Reserve and accommodation. We will review this decision as Governemnt advice is updated.

We are very grateful for the supportive messages many have sent and we will keep you up-to-date with Spring happenings at Elmley through our Social Media channels. For now, please do not make non-essential journeys and stay safe.

We look forward to reopening as soon as we are able.

 

Elmley NNR

UPDATE - 21ST MARCH

We have sadly had to make the decision to close

We have taken the decision to close our accommodation initially until 1st May.  We had put incredibly strict hygiene measures in place but we just don’t feel that we can justify welcoming guests on a break whilst the government is advising against non-essential travel.

 We are just a collection of individual places in the middle of a huge nature reserve, so on the face of it, we’re offering a low risk escape into nature – something so many could benefit from at this time.

And only just a couple of days ago we posted to say that we were still open and welcoming guests.  In the current climate, however, things are moving and changing so fast.  And we have spent the last 48 hours agonizing over whether we should be open.

There has been no mention in government advice that holiday accommodation should close, so it has become the personal choice of the traveller.  And we are left in limbo.  For a business to close when there is still high demand and no official reason for closure seems ludicrous…or would seem ludicrous in normal times.

The more we seem to know about the disease, the more irresponsible and uncomfortable we feel being open.  Now that we know that government will support the jobs of our staff, our priority has to be the safety of them and their families, our local community and of course our guests themselves.

We are by no means writing this to say that this is what other sites should do.  We have taken this decision based on our business and our judgement.  We operate on a short stay basis and we are also very fortunate that we are very busy through the winter months. 

If you have booked to stay with us over the coming weeks, we do understand that you may be upset with this decision.  And we really are so sorry – we know that a stay with us isn’t simply a frivolous luxury, and now more than ever an escape into nature is what so many need to help in these anxious times.  We really do hope that you will come again when we feel confident we can welcome you safely.

We will be contacting you directly to let you know and to process your cancellation.  You can choose to postpone your stay or exchange for credit,  which although it has been our choice to close and cancel your stay we really do hope you will consider, if you are able, to ensure we can welcome you again.

We are so grateful for the support everyone has shown us during this time.  It is a hugely difficult time for all, so thank you.  It really means the world to us, and knowing we have such a strong and supportive community has really given us the confidence to make this terrifying decision.

We cannot wait to get the next few months over and welcome you again, and in the meantime stay safe and keep well.

With our very best wishes

Georgina and Gareth

UPDATE - 19TH MARCH

A Note to Friends of Elmley on the Coronavirus Situation

Dear Friends

We're sending our thoughts and well wishes to everyone who has been impacted by the COVID-19 infection. We hope you; your family, colleagues and friends are all staying safe and doing what you can to keep well in these uncertain times.  

We know how much the Reserve mean to many of you and we want it to continue to be a place of solace, tranquillity and enjoyment. The health and wellbeing of our Friends, wardens, volunteers and staff is at the same time our utmost priority. As such we have taken the decision to continue opening our Reserve from 9am to 4pm and closed Tuesdays, however for both hygiene and practical reasons (a lack of loo rolls and sanitiser) the public toilets and bird hides will be closed and therefore there will be no facilities to wash your hands with soap and water and no availability of hand sanitiser gel on the Reserve.

If you wish to visit Elmley during these extraordinary times for some peace and tranquillity surrounded by abundant wildlife life you are welcome to use your car as a comfortable hide from which to observe or photograph the wildlife at close proximity. If you wish to stop, please park at an appropriate place where another car or farm vehicle can pass safely and turn off your engine whilst parked or waiting at the roadside as vehicle fumes can damage your health, wildlife and the environment. The rules for remaining in your car at all times remain unchanged. 

At present we request that you do not linger in the car park, avoid gathering groups at any time. If we are very busy, we will close the car park and signpost all cars to turnaround in the space below the main car park and return along the track– so in effect the entry road will be open but the remainder of the Reserve closed. The main gate will be open between 9am and 4pm, and will not be manned, so please ensure that you leave the reserve before closing time. Volunteer wardens will be mobile or in the car park.

In line with Government guidance, if you have a high temperature, or new continuous cough, please postpone your visit to Elmley, and stay at home for the recommended time. We also ask that should you be unfortunate enough to become infected shortly after visiting us that you make us aware in order that we can take appropriate action to protect others.

As said above, we will continue to monitor the situation closely and will update you on future developments following any further government guidance.

With best wishes in these anxious times. Gareth, Georgina and everyone at Elmley

UPDATE - 19TH MARCH

Elmley update for our guests - 19 March

Firstly, thank you for such support and encouragement from so many of our guests and visitors – it really does mean so much, especially when everyone is going through anxious times.

We are monitoring and reviewing the latest news and working out our way as the situation develops on a daily basis.

We have always thought we were lucky to have such an amazing team, and now they are really shining.  Everyone is working so hard to ensure that the hygiene measure are in place to keep you safe if you choose to stay with us whilst dealing with the huge number of enquiries from understandably worried guests.

In light of the most recent news and the impending developments – 12 week isolation for high risk people, school closures and the likely London lockdown – we know that many more of you will simply not be able to stay or stay with us safely.

If you are unable to come please do get in touch as soon as you can.  We will try to rearrange your stay or offer a credit for a future stay.    Please do give us as much notice as you can.    

Unfortunately we are not able to offer blanket refunds. Please can we ask that you check your travel insurance in the first instance – we do know that many people will not be covered but it would really help if you make enquiries first.

We are doing our best to work our way forward and to look after our longstanding and incredible team to ensure we can continue to provide an escape for you.

Of course everything could (and probably will!) change again but we will keep you updated and this applies as long as we can keep on welcoming guests!

For new bookings

Any new booking will be freely transferable to another date. 

And we have reduced the booking deposit to 15% 

Your booking and deposit will be processed as normal and your confirmation email will confirm that you have a flexible booking, with the ability to change the dates up to 48 hours before the stay.

If you are no longer able to stay because of coronavirus please email us to confirm this. We will either issue you with a credit to the value of your deposit or amend the dates of your stay

Please do note that the booking deposit is non refundable but will be able to be transferred to any new dates on any accommodation (subject to availability) until 31 December 2020.

For visitors to the Reserve

We know how much the Reserve mean to many of you and we want it to continue to be a place of solace, tranquillity and enjoyment. The health and wellbeing of our Friends of Elmley, wardens, volunteers and staff is at the same time our utmost priority. As such we have taken the decision to continue opening our Reserve from 9am to 4pm and closed Tuesdays, however for both hygiene and practical reasons the public toilets and bird hides will be closed and therefore there will be no facilities to wash your hands with soap and water and no availability of hand sanitiser gel on the Reserve.

If you wish to visit Elmley during these extraordinary times for some peace and tranquillity surrounded by abundant wildlife life you are welcome to use your car as a comfortable hide from which to observe or photograph the wildlife at close proximity. If you wish to stop, please park at an appropriate place where another car or farm vehicle can pass safely and turn off your engine whilst parked or waiting at the roadside as vehicle fumes can damage your health, wildlife and the environment. The rules for remaining in your car at all times remain unchanged. 

At present we request that you do not linger in the car park, avoid gathering groups at any time. If we are very busy, we will close the car park and signpost all cars to turnaround in the space below the main car park and return along the track– so in effect the entry road will be open but the remainder of the Reserve closed. The main gate will be open between 9am and 4pm, and will not be manned, so please ensure that you leave the reserve before closing time. Volunteer wardens will be mobile or in the car park.

We're sending our thoughts and well wishes to everyone who has been impacted by the COVID-19 infection. We hope you; your family, colleagues and friends are all staying safe.

And...

Along with the breeding birds on the Reserve, we've had a honeymoon and a proposal in the huts... so lovely to have this wonderful news - congratulations to them!  

We'll keep you all updated on social media with the wonderful wildlife bursting into life this Spring - if you are unable to visit - we will do our best to bring Elmley to you :) 

 

17TH MARCH

An update from Elmley to our guests

To all our guests

It is heartbreaking to be writing this whilst all around us at Elmley nature is giving us such signs of hope - under the blue skies and sunshine, the trees are bursting into bud and blossom, the hares are most definitely enjoying Spring and yesterday amongst all the worrying news we spotted the first lapwing nest.

We are all trying to make sense of these uncertain times.  As you will be aware the government has asked that everyone avoids all unnecessary social contact particularly those over 70, pregnant women and for those with health conditions.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people

The government has asked that people avoid gatherings for example in pubs, clubs and social venues and non-essential use of public transport.  There has been no mention of holiday accommodation. We will monitor the daily government briefings.

For our accommodation guests

For now, we will continue operating our accommodation.  We have a small number of separated spaces, on a very large site – the priority must be to protect public health so over the past days we have increased our already stringent measures to ensure our accommodation remains a safe space for guests and our team.  These measures have been increased to ensure that we abide by social distancing. 

• Our team are all fully aware of, and are following government requirements to ensure that all hygiene measures are in place and are following strict health and safety procedures. 

• As always, our fantastic housekeeping team are maintaining the highest levels of hygiene and cleanliness throughout all accommodation and shared spaces.

• We have moved the check-in and check-out area from the office to Kingshill Barn – to provide a larger space to allow safe distances to be maintained.   

• Our team will welcome you warmly as ever but will not shake your hand and will keep a strict minimum 2 metre distance. 

• If you feel more comfortable, you are very welcome to check yourself in and out – please request instructions.  Our team are available by telephone when needed.

• If you would like meals during your stay - our kitchen team have a 5 Star Food Hygiene rating and are following all hygiene guidelines – and will deliver meals to your hut or house steps.

We are continually monitoring the situation and we have been in touch with those of you who are staying in the coming weeks already

We do understand, however, that many of you have concerns about staying, and that in these times there may be factors that mean that you are not able to, or do not feel comfortable in staying with us.  Our terms and conditions can be found here.  If you are unable to stay, please do check your insurance policy in the first instance.  We have considered our operations very carefully and believe we can still welcome guests, so we will not be able to offer refunds at this time.  If you fall into the high risk categories please do get in touch with us on 01795 664 896 or [email protected], we will deal with your stay on an individual basis.  Please bear with us if you do not receive an immediate response as we will be speaking to guests who are staying soonest first.

If, in the event we are unable to accommodate your stay due to closure we will postpone your stay or offer a refund as per our terms and conditions above.  We will continue monitoring the situation, and keep our guests updated if this changes. 

Please can we ask all guests to help us by following the government advice. 

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people   

• Regularly washing hands

• Maintaining a distance of at least two metres between other guests and staff

• Being extra vigilant about your well being and if you feel unwell please let us know as soon as possible

A stay at Elmley is about peace and tranquillity surrounded by abundant nature bursting into life.  Our huts and houses are situated apart from one another, all with stunning views and surrounded by nature.  We do hope that a stay at Elmley will feel safe, and hopefully a wonderful escape from the uncertainty of the world at the moment so please help us keep operating by joining in with these necessary precautions. 

For our Nature Reserve visitors

The Nature Reserve is open as normal – every day except Tuesdays – 9am to 4pm. For those in our local community that do not feel comfortable being amongst people, please do know that - unless you need to self-isolate - you can visit and enjoy our wildlife from your car or walk on the quiet and open paths and we do hope that we can provide a respite from the anxieties all are facing.

As we are not able to speak to every visitors and we don’t have the resources to provide constant cleaning or loo roll (!) for public facilities we have taken the difficult decision to close them for the foreseeable future – this includes the toilets and hides. Please remember that public access to the Reserve is administrated by volunteers and all monies go directly to the visitor facilities, through the Elmley Nature Reserve Community Interest Company. 

Finally...

Times are uncertain and anxious for everyone throughout the world.  And the recent developments in the UK have generated even more worry for those in the hospitality industry.  Whilst we are very worried about our own business and the security of our incredible, loyal and hardworking team, we are feeling fortunate that we are based in a wild setting and accommodation has not been mentioned in the current government guidance.  

Our thoughts are very much with our fellow hospitality businesses and we hope to support the industry as much as we can over the coming weeks.  We know that many restaurants and other hospitality businesses have been working hard to put precautions in place to keep their staff and guests safe, so if you feel safe and comfortable in doing so please do continue to support your local businesses in whatever way you can.

With best wishes in these anxious times

Gareth and Georgina